The Ahr valley is about 90 minutes away from Bonn by bike. This valley marks the northern end of the Eifel, a volcanic low mountain range in northern Germany.
The microclimate and terroir (slate) makes it suitable for growing wine. For many years, tradition and local demand resulted in largely unremarkable sweet Pinot Noirs.
When I came back from California and felt I needed to cultivate my acquired habits also at home, I went on bike rides to the few wine makers who dared to go against the tradition. My favorite was Weingut Kreuzberg, run by a friendly family. The two sons were happy to sell me one or two bottles of their Dernauer Pfarrwingert Auslese, to be carried home by bike.
One day there was excitement: They just had won a price in Berlin for their illegally planted and harvested Cabernet Sauvignon. German wine laws are quite German, indeed. Each region is supposed to grow only their allowed varieties of grapes, and exceptions need a special permission. The Kreuzbergs didn’t get permission, because the wine association didn’t believe that Cabernet would grow in this climate.
The punishment was cynical: The Kreuzbergs had to rip out their Cabernet plants, because they were planted without permission, but were allowed to replant them, because they had proven that Cabernet could actually grow there.
Things have changed since. More quality wines are being produced at the Ahr (among them Cabernet Sauvignon), and the little known wines made by the Kreuzbergs are now sold out faster than it takes to get from Bonn to the Ahr (by bike).
What am I doing here? Applauding the break with traditions and simultaneously lamenting their loss? Silly me.